Photographer Turns 4,100 Pounds of E-Waste into Surreal Portraits

Electronic waste, or e-waste, is the endless low of discarded electronic devices that are thrown out on a daily basis around the world. To raise awareness of this ever-growing problem, photographer Benjamin Von Wong got his hands on 4,100 pounds of e-waste and used it to create a set of amazing surreal portraits.

In 2010, an average of 142,000 computers were thrown away every single day in the United States, Von Wong writes, noting that “Electronic waste is the fastest growing municipal waste stream in the world.”

While attending SXSW in 2017, Von Wong learned that Dell runs the world’s largest global recycling program, offering free e-waste recycling in over 80 countries around the globe. The biggest challenge: raising awareness and getting people to recycle instead of trash.

Von Wong decided to use his photography skills to help do just that. He was given 4,100 pounds of e-waste from Dell for the photos, which is approximately how much e-waste a typical American might use in their lifetime.

50 volunteers spent 10 days going through the e-waste, sorting them into groups of laptops, circuit boards, and keyboards.

Von Wong and his crew also built structures for the sets using wood, paint, and simple tools. To create “portals,” the volunteers spent up to 6 hours on each arch, covering them with circuit boards. It also took 8 hours to do the hair, makeup, and bodypaint for the model.

Here are the three resulting surreal portraits along with behind-the-scenes views of how each was created:


Particle Accelerator

Solar Farm

Finally, here’s a short 3-minute video by Von Wong about this project as a whole:

“It took only 4 hours to clean up 10 days of hard work – but the images will hopefully live on forever and empower every individual to tell their friends and family to Rethink electronic waste, Recycle them responsibly, so that responsible companies like Dell can Revive them as brand new computer parts,” Von Wong says. “Please help us spread the word. Your voice can make the difference!”